Self-Portrait with Jade Cutlery, 1990



Self-Portrait with Jade Cutlery. 1990. oil, charcoal, graphite and ink on box-carton board


This is my favorite little piece among my early works. Jade cutlery? Gilded plate? Platinum metal goblet on the right? Here, objects of wealth, music (or art) as luxury or . . . let's rephrase: products owned by wealth or a status of being wealthy, sitting with an image of poverty/modesty (the simple fish and rice on the wealthy's plate). Here too is an image of possible violence in the knife or switchblade or sword at the bottom of the picture. Or is this the flute (aforementioned music object) of the seated? Or both? Also notice the overly central ordering of the picture, an arrangement or composition that could be an artiste-ism in itself. The message or question: what is the artist? For whom does the artist exist or fulfill his role? Does the artist truly know what he's doing, the politics of his role and of his works within his social surround? Does he think himself a part of this surround, or is he alone, a self-exiled outcast who occasionally visits the marketplace to sell his wares, surviving thusly?

Addendum (2018): The thesis of this work would be repeated when I exhibited a painting with a group at the Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea gallery in Greenbelt 5 from March 15 of this year, 2018. The title of the painting is Portrait of an Artivist Soul as a Middle-Class Aficionado of Social Realism (2006-18). I'll show that piece here later.

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